#mysterynovels, #suspensenovels #legalthriller
Large [very large] mistakes were made by so many in Conduct in Question! And then there were the smaller ones.
Hello, I’m Harry Jenkins, Toronto lawyer. I have a great story to tell you–one many lawyers [not me included] would love to tell over drinks after a long day of corporate mergers or heated argument in the Court of Appeal at Osgoode Hall. Undoubtedly it would cause raucous laughter and calls for another round.
We all know the admonition “be careful what you wish for.”
Lawyers are always wishing for more–more clients, more money, more perks from the partnership. What was I wishing for?
To get out from underneath the thumb of my senior partner, Richard Crawford,
by buying him out. But he wasn’t going anywhere. He was enjoying life too much with the female clients at my expense. You see, I was in the backroom doing most of the firm’s work— the research and file preparation etc. But everything changed one morning. I was stunned! Some wits have said, I was then free to make my own mistakes.
You’ll find this story in Conduct in Question Ch. 1
When Harry’s secretary, Miss Giveny, returned with the the Marjorie Deighton file, Harry rifled through it, searching for instructions. Nothing made sense. Turning the page, he caught his breath. The entire sheet was scrawled with intricate and detailed pen sketches of female genitalia, viewed from the most surprising angles. A neat border of rose petals edged the drawing.
Harry gasped, then choked with laughter. At the foot of the page was written: R. A. Crawford…secret trust/will instructions from Miss M. Deighton. Holding the page at arm’s length, Harry squinted, then turned it upside down.
There was absolutely no doubt about the subject matter. Harry was extremely impressed with his partner’s skill and artistic sensibilities. The usually prim Mr. Crawford must have hidden his lustful artistry as he diligently recorded Miss Deighton’s will instructions. [I must admit that there were several drawings in the file, but this was really the only one I could publish. It seems my partner had many skills of which I was unaware!]
Richard Crawford always presented an image of elegance and refinement to the world, but his file revealed the dark cracks of derangement in the old man’s polished surface. Adjusting his reading glasses, Harry stole another look at the drawing.
Crawford strolled into the waiting room with a newspaper neatly tucked under his arm. He softly whistled to himself. Instead of going directly into his own office, he knocked and entered Harry’s office.
Harry hastily closed the file.
“My good man,” Crawford beamed, “I see you have the Deighton file. Be sure you get Marjorie’s secret trusts right. If you’ve any questions about technical aspects, just ask me.”
Harry was speechless. His face burned with embarrassment for the old man. Finally he asked, “But where are the written instructions?”
Crawford waved impatiently and spoke as if to a lowly student. “Everything you could possibly want is in the file, Harry. Study it carefully.” Crawford paused. His eyes glazed over. Apparently lost in pleasant recollection, he sighed, “Marjorie.” Suddenly, he turned on Harry, eyes hardened with the memory of lust.
Harry hastened to stand.
“That delectable woman!” Crawford seemed to be addressing someone over Harry’s shoulder, just outside the window. “She has the spirit of a saint, but, as God is my witness, the body of a…” A nasty purple flush rose from Crawford’s collar. “Do you understand how a woman can possess a man?” he demanded, teetering heel to toe. He whispered hoarsely, “Jenkins! Have you ever experienced the passion, the thrall?”
For an instant, Crawford’s left side sagged with the ravages of stroke. He sought to right himself. “If you have not, my good man, then you have not lived.” The old man’s eyes momentarily turned upward. Only the whites could be seen.
Harry panicked. “Richard, are you ill?” He rushed to his partner’s side, but Crawford did not answer. His face engorged with dark pleasure, he gave a lurid and distorted wink. The effect was horrific. Harry’s stomach heaved.
Crawford lurched forward. His chin struck the desk with such a crack that Miss Giveny came running.
Harry shouted, “Richard! Are you all right? Can you hear me?”
Dropping to all fours, Harry pressed his ear to Crawford’s chest and listened intently. He shook his shoulder, making Crawford’s head loll to one side. One glassy eye stared up at him. The ghastly wink had frozen the other eye shut. Ravenous demands of the flesh had consumed his body and soul. As the paramedics crowded in with the stretcher minutes later, Harry tore up the artwork.
And so, that is the very beginning. By the time, Conduct in Question is done, I will have had to guess at the identity of the serial killer, dubbed the Florist, who was stalking the city. Why the Florist? His drawings of roses were his signature.
I will have found my very best client, Marjorie Deighton, [yes, the same Marjorie Deighton] dead in her bed, dressed as if ready to go out for tea. Not an hour or two before that, she had called me urgently to come to her house to change her will.
Shall I tell you how the novel ends? It’s not really any sort of “spoiler”. Read On:
Harry strolled past the Alton Club back to his office. Smiling, he saw patterns in his life that, in hindsight, seemed to lead inexorably to new beginnings. The violent madness, murder, and fraud had burst open his life in just a few weeks. Crawford was dead, freeing him from his servitude. With Natasha, perhaps the pain of his dead marriage would fade. At last he could step through that shadowy doorway and into the light of a new life. Picking up his pace, he mused that passion and duty had achieved a fine balance, and that perhaps that was the aim of every life.
But don’t forget. Conduct in Question has a brand new cover. The story itself is exactly the same. Check out this image. The cover in the centre is the new one and the one on the right is the old.
Find out more about the novels [Conduct in Question, Final Paradox and A Trial of One] here: The Osgoode Trilogy
And Purchase here
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]